My baby is learning to walk, and so am I.
I used to know how, but I’ve been crawling around on my belly with my face in the dust for so long, that I’ve forgotten. So now I am watching, learning, and exploring along with him on this new adventure.
It began with an insatiable drive to reach for something higher. Something he couldn’t get to while sitting on the floor. So one day, he extended a chubby hand, grabbed on, and pulled himself up. After that, a little bit more of the world was available to him. He was starting to gain control. Not much, but some.
Before I knew it, he was pulling himself along the furniture. He had learned to take steps. Assisted ones, but steps nonetheless. He learned to combine his own will power with his newfound mobility to gain access to what he needed.
And then one day, I knew it was time. I could tell by his wide stance — his bare feet clinging to the hardwood floor, his tiny toes spread and white with the strain. His chubby fists clenched and his chunky little legs began to quiver. And as his pink, flushed cherub face turned upward, his furrowed brow softened and a spark flashed in his widened eyes. I could almost hear his little wheels turning: “Look at me! I am standing alone. I knew I could do it all by myself, and –” Plop!
Days passed. Weeks passed. I watched him return to his crawling and scooting motions. It was faster, more efficient. It got him where he needed to go. In an effort to encourage his progress as a biped, I began walking him around the house on a regular basis, his hands in mine. At first, he clenched my fingers tightly as he barreled through the various rooms and hallways. But after a few weeks, his grip loosened so much that I was sure he wasn’t really leaning on me at all. So one day, as we were walking around, I let go … and there he went. 2 steps, 3 steps, 4, 5 … 10, 11, 12 steps. Plop! I watched the curly blond head spin around, and he gave me a toothy grin. He did it.
That evening, he couldn’t get enough. It was like flying a kite. I’d get him started, and once the wind was in his sails, he would take off through the house. Again and again. He toddled around until his legs gave out and tiny beads of sweat glittered on the tip of his nose. His cheeks were rosy and warm when I scooped him up at bedtime.
Whenever I wonder if I can make it through this ordeal, I watch my little boy. After only a few weeks of practicing his new skill, he seems so much more stable and confident. His legs don’t tire so easily now; his muscles are building. They are muscles he will use for the rest of his life. But what about me? Where am I in my “adventure” anyway? Sometimes I still have days when I’m scooting around on my belly, just trying to claw my way through the muck. Lots of days, actually. Even when I am getting around at all, I still feel like I’m holding on to the furniture. And I hate it. I’m a big girl, right? Why can’t I just run already? Because that would require a path that’s not paved yet, I guess. And because my muscles are wimpy and underdeveloped. And then there’s the isolation of it all. Truth is, when I stand alone, my chubby little legs shake like a leaf. Sometimes I do stand alone. I stood alone when I got on that plane. But then — Plop! I’m down for the count. It’s just so dang hard to be patient. And you know what else hurts? My best friend. He’s the one I would have gone to in times like these. The one who would’ve taken my hands in his and been my support to lean on until I could walk on my own. But this time … he’s the one that broke my knees in the first place. He’s the reason I’m having to learn to walk all over again. That hurts. And who is going to scoop me up at bedtime? No one. I sleep alone now. That’s just life.
But I have to look forward right? And I have to have hope that there are better days ahead. My muscles will get stronger. I will work off that baby fat. I will learn to walk again. I will learn to RUN! And I will stand alone. And I will be okay. I have to believe that. I watch my baby and I feel it burn in my soul. I must have hope.